Mike Wonoski is an old pro at playing hockey in the United States and Canada, but has never done so overseas.
The Beverly native will get the chance to fulfill that dream next month — and hopes to bring a gold medal back home with him to the States in the process.
A 5-foot-8, 170-pound, high-scoring center, Wonoski will represent his country in Finland at the second annual World Deaf Ice Hockey Championships. The tournament, which includes Canada, Russia, Sweden and the host country, begins March 30 and concludes with the gold medal game April 6. It will be played at the Tikkurila Valtti Arena in Vantaa, a suburb of Helsinki.
The 25-year-old Wonoski participated in the inaugural WDIHC in 2009 in Winnipeg, Canada, and helped the U.S. team capture bronze. He brings skill and experience to a team ranging in age from 18 to 47 (there is no age limit).
“I’m excited about going again and looking forward to bringing home the gold medal,” said Wonoski, who was born with severe bilateral hearing loss and normally wears two hearing aids. He will not, however, be allowed to wear them during the tournament.
“Mike gave up wearing his hearing aid when the time for tryouts got closer,” said Karen Wonoski, Mike’s mother. “It’s quite an adjustment, but I guess they want everyone to be on equal footing.”
Wonoski, who played his high school hockey at St. Mary’s of Lynn before transferring to Tilton School in New Hampshire, was an assistant captain for his team at Worlds four years ago. He was disappointed when the 2011 Deaflympics were canceled, but is excited to once again play on an international stage.
He and four of his USA teammates from Massachusetts (Michael Eastman from Boston, Jeff Mansfield from Cambridge, and Paul Malaney and Tony McGaughey, both from Holbook) will be honored by the Boston Bruins on Thursday night at the TD Garden in Boston during the team’s game against the Ottawa Senators.